Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Genderizing Problem

Note: Before you read any more of this post, remember that I am a teenage girl.  Did you hear me?  A teenage girl.  Okay, resume reading.

I’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile, but only last night did I finally reach the last straw.  I absolutely can’t stand hate detest when a teacher, reader, publisher, or anyone else “genderizes” a book. 

What does that mean?  Here’s an example: A while back, I came across an article that actually suggested that libraries/bookstores separate their MG and YA books into two sections.  “Boy books” and “girl books”. 

No joke.  I wanted to scream.  I was about ready to track down whoever wrote it and try and knock some sense into them. 

This would imply that there are certain books that girls (and only girls) enjoy and boys wouldn’t, and vice versa.  Earth to reader: do you have any idea how blatantly ridiculous that concept is? 

Firelight (Firelight, #1)If books were separated like that, I’d spend all my time in the boy section.  I’ve noticed that most of my favorite books have one thing in common.  Most of them have a review on the back that says something like “Great for boys who are reluctant readers!”  So where does that leave me?  I don’t like romance books.  Sometimes I’ll go out of my way to avoid romance. *dodges rocks*  I’m not much for general fiction, either.  I feel like the general public just assumes that all girls are interested in romance and chicklit.  No, I like my swordfights and wars and time travel and adventure—the stuff often associated with “boy books”.

Here’s my other problem: publishers seem to be mostly catering towards girls these days.  Oh, scoff all you like, but I truly believe this. 
Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)

What’s that?  What’s your excuse?  Boys don’t read?

Well, no, why would they?  Publishers aren’t giving them any reason to read.  Go on Goodreads, go on Amazon, go wherever and look at the new releases.  Yeah.  See a pattern?  Many, many, many of those covers feature a flawless female model either wearing a fancy gown, or smiling prettily and showing off part (and never the entire face, only part) of her face. 

Evermore (The Immortals, #1)This isn’t going to stop a girl from picking the book up (well, okay, it might stop me, but that isn’t the point).  A boy, on the other hand, isn’t going to even consider it.  Most boys I know wouldn’t dare be seen walking around with a book with that kind of cover.  And since most books these days seem to have a similar cover, they just aren’t going to read as much.* 

And it goes in circles.  Many publishers target female audiences, which alienates the males, which in turn reinforces the stupid idea the only girls read.  The cycle just won’t stop.

So what can we do?
Wildwing Since most of us don't work in cover designing and publishing, I'm not sure what we can do.  I'm not even quite sure what I'm trying to say here.  Maybe I just need to let off some steam.  All I'm trying to do is state my opinion.  I hope I got it across in a good way.

And, by the way, a few of my favorite books have been recommended to me by boys.  So there.

What about you?  What do you think about this?  I'd especially like to get some male opinions, if anyone's out there...


*What will boys pick up?  Hmm, good question.  Maybe something with a cover like The Marbury Lens.  "Hey!  That's creepy!  I can totally freak out my sister at the same time as I'm reading!  Two birds with one stone, dude!"  Or maybe not.


Through Her EyesDISCLAIMER: Maybe I'm going out on a limb here.  I don't know.  Maybe the topic is just too much and that branch is about to crack.  But if I can't blog about how I feel about things, then I can't blog at all. 


I'm not saying that each and every publisher does this.  I'm just saying that I've been seeing this same pattern over and over lately.   And I'm not trying to imply anything with the books covers.  Just...take it how you will.

And yes, I get it that quite a few boys don't read.  But then again, some do.  Again, take that how you will.   If you can't disagree with me politely and act mature about it, then this blog isn't for you.  I welcome debate but won't tolerate arguing. 

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5 comments:

  1. *EPIC*
    Go Annie!!
    I can't believe how little of this I've really realized for myself before I read your post. This really is shocking.

    And something you touched upon but didn't really emphasize: It's not just the covers, it's what the covers imply. Something like "this book is about a pretty girl who wears dresses and makeup all the time and doesn't do much other than dressing up and smelling flowers and maybe occasionally meeting a ghost or a vampire." What boy would want to read that? What GIRL would want to read that?

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  2. *claps* I totally agree with you! I've noticed this a lot. And not only that, but alot of books are mostly about girls. Or at least, the MCs are girls.

    I actually have a couple (no all) my guy friends read. And one of their favorite series are the alex rider series. About this guy who's a super spy.

    I wonder if a bunch of people wrote about something like this to publishers if they'd realize this and try and start gearing their books more towards guys and not alienate them so often?

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  3. Oh, I totally agree! I mean, there are definitely books meant for girls (i.e. Twilight) that most boys wouldn't be caught dead reading, and probably wouldn't enjoy even if they did. But a lot of the books that are marketed "for girls" in today's world are just as easily books that boys would enjoy, too! My guess is the publishers are trying to take advantage of the whole Twilight craze. The only thing that made Twilight into a craze, even, was the hoards of fangirls who were in love with the sexy vampire boy or the hotter-than-fire werewolf sidekick. I think publishers are trying to recreate that feeling. "Hey! Read this book! It's got a pretty girl on the cover and if you read the back, she's got a pretty sexy love interest!" Yep. I think publishers think they can make more money that way.

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  4. Peony: I bet if an entire publishing house (or a division, like HarperMEN or something haha) opened up with the focus on publishing only books that guys would read, they would make A FORTUNE. Just because it's a "untapped market": no one else is doing it!

    Firefly: I read Twilight on the recommendation of the most popular guy in my school :p That's before there were any fangirls, though. Things were different back then hahaha.

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  5. @Peony: Haha! I like Alex Rider too! And it was actually recommended to me by a guy. And maybe if a bunch of people wrote about it, people would start noticing. Is this the beginning of a blog revolution of sorts? Hm....

    @Firefly114: Yes. Exactly. Maybe if books didn't have girls on the cover, boys would be more open to reading them. They wouldn't put it down, even if they knew the main character was female. I think, in many cases, boys aren't as open to reading about female characters. Possibly because of this Twilight craze.

    @Booklover: HarperMen! I love it! Someone should really do that. Or HarperGuys or something. I can just see the copyright: Published by HarperGuys, and imprint of HarperTeen.

    And I do know a teenage male who likes Twilight. So there are always exceptions.

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